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Chess, June, 2007

Alexander Hildebrand

It may be a unique achievement for one man to have represented, at different times, two countries at the Permanent Commission of the FIDE for Chess Composition (PCCC). Unique or not, there was at least one man who managed that feat. He was Alexander Hildebrand, the grand old man of Swedish chess composition.

He first represented Estonia, and, in later years, Sweden. He died in 2005, having been born in 1921. I believe that a composing tourney in his memory is currently under way. He composed problems as well as endgame studies. To celebrate his eightieth birthday a composing tourney for endgame studies was organised. Both of our studies this month are taken from that event and were published in Springaren, a Swedish Chess Composition magazine.

The first one may be familiar to some readers: I used it a few years ago at the final of the British Chess Solving Championship, where it proved particularly difficult to solve against the clock. Those who got further than White’s first move may consider themselves as having done well.

Yury Zemliansky

2nd HM., Hildebrand Jubilee Ty. (Springaren), 2001


White to play and win

White has the exchange for a pawn, but Black has the threat of 1...Bxe5+ 0-1. As 1.Rhe1? Rd2 2.Red1 Rxd1 3.Rxd1 Bxe5+ 4.Kg8 c4 only draws, 1.Kg8!, avoiding the check and covering f7, is the only option. Now Black will regret taking that pawn ... 1...Bxe5? 2.Rb6+! Bf6 3.Rh6+ Kxh6 4.Rxf6# 1...Rd2! Now the need to defend against the mate threat limits White's options somewhat and passive play doesn't work. For instance - 2.Rhd1? Rxd1 3.Rxd1 Bxe5 4.Rd5 Bf6 =; 2.Rhf1? Rd8+ 3.Rf8 Rxf8+ 4.Kxf8 Bxe5 =; 2.Kf8? Bxe5 3.Rb6+ Rd6 4.Rxd6+ Bxd6+ = 2.Rh6+!! This sacrifice forces the black king away from guarding f7, thus removing the mate threat and giving White time to push his passed pawn. 2...Kxh6 3.e6 Re2 (3...Bf6? 4.Kf7! 1-0) 4.e7! (4.Kf7? Rf2+ 0-1) 4...Rxe7 (4...Bf6 5.Kf7! Rxe7+ 6.Kxf6 1-0; 4...Kg6 5.Rxb2 1-0) 5.Rxb2 Despite his material deficit, White's mate threat now forces Black's next move. 5...Rg7+ Now 6.Kf8? c4 7.Rd2 c3 8.Ra2 c2 9.Rxc2 Rf7+! 10.Kxf7 is stalemate, so 6.Kh8! which sets up a near zugzwang. Now, any move of the black rook loses quickly, as 6...Rg6?? 7.Rh2# or 6...Rf7? (say) 7.Rb6+ Rf6 8.Rxf6# and moving the king loses the rook thus 6...Kg6 7.Rb6+ Kf7 8.Rb7+ 1-0 Note that in this last variation the white rook has to be to the left of the e-file for this to work, a point that will become important in the subsequent play. The only piece Black can play without creating a weakness is the c-pawn. 6...c4 Now the white rook has to play accurately. When the black pawn gets to c3, White must be able to play to a2, because b2 and d2 would then be covered and playing to c2 would break the potential zugzwang as a move up the file would then be impossible. 7.Rd2! c3 8.Ra2! Kg6 9.Ra6+ Kf7 10.Ra7+ 1-0

Most would agree that this is a very fine endgame study. Amongst other plus points it has difficulty and a natural setting. As it didn't make the prize list (its composer had to be content with only the second honorary mention), no one could be blamed for asking after the prizewinners themselves. Perhaps I'll come to them in a later column.

Our study for your solving is somewhat easier. It didn't make the final award in the tourney, but it is nonetheless a good advertisement for the study composer's art.

Yury Akobiya

Hildebrand Jubilee Ty. (Springaren), 2001


White to play and win

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